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Transcript: Sean Payton minicamp media availability 6-8-21

Saints head coach speaks to the media following Day 1 of Minicamp

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton
Virtual Media Availability
Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Can you just kind of walk us through what a typical day will look like with just kind of the changes that you guys are doing for minicamp and just the benefits of it being more catered to classroom work?
"Yeah, look, this year has been a little bit of an adjustment. But we're trying to get, No. 1, the priority is the weight room and making sure guys are having a chance to get in the best shape that they need to be in and then as the schedules progressed we've been able to really try to maximize their time with on-field individual fundamental work, and then also classroom work and kind of removing the team element for now away from it. So the schedule has worked out well. I know we call this week minicamp, and there's certain things that involves, and yet the schedule hasn't changed too much from what they were doing a week or two weeks ago, or what they're doing this week."

This is still mandatory correct?
"No this is mandatory, this three-day window is and we're 100% here in attendance."

Will this be the final week the team does anything organized until training camp?
"We'll have the rookies here still and they'll go through what we typically do with them before we let them go. But yeah, we've had really good numbers, relative to our guys working out. I've been really impressed with really most everyone. This rookie class has done a good job. We'll have a chance to evaluate obviously a lot more thoroughly once we start training camp."

Is there anything you took away from Bill Parcells and how he handled a quarterback competition in the offseason and training camp with the Cowboys?
"Yeah, look, it was different than, but Bill (Parcells) used to say, and I think it holds true today, we pay attention to everything. You pay attention to just what you see without any predisposed thoughts. We'll have tried to do our best relative to the reps that we have during the training camp and during the preseason games and then kind of go from there."

How strange or how weird is it without Drew Brees being around?
"Look, I think there is not one specific thing. Periodically he has poked his head in the building. He's been in town running some errands or doing some things maybe in a business manner. But, there hasn't been that moment where and I'm sure there will be, but there hasn't been that moment here in the offseason, necessarily."

I know that the NFL has a goal of I think 85% vaccination for, for players for the start of training camp. How much do you talk with your team about that? Do you think you'll get there? And just the importance of it?
"Yeah, look, Beau (Lowery) and our training room, those guys have done a great job. We're 100% in the building with staff, coaches and personnel, tier one and two and we're really encouraged with our numbers relative to the team. I do think we'll get to the 85%, that number that we're hearing. So that's encouraging. But I think it hasn't been one big team meeting or any one specific thing, but it's been more education, one on one time, and I think the guys in the training room, headed up by Beau and those guys have really done a great job."

Do you have any thoughts on the passing of Jim Fassel?
"Yeah, it kind of caught me off guard today. I think everyone because of the nature of his death and he gave me a great opportunity back in in 1999. To be not only the quarterback coach, but then the year later to be the play-caller and offensive coordinator for the first time for me in this league. And that is something that you never forget and he and I had a really good relationship. His son (John), and obviously his other family members will carry on his legacy. But he made a big impact on a lot of people."

How tempted were you this offseason to try to be more normal with OTAs and minicamps given there's a quarterback battle and there's a lot of holes along the roster as far as starting jobs and such that you haven't had in the past?
"Yeah, I like the roster, and I don't see as many holes maybe as others. There are certainly some positions that we're still working on. But we pay attention to the current climate and then what are our objectives? And then, what are we going to try to accomplish during the preseason? And it's really easy to keep turning the page, but I think last year was different. And we understood this year will be a little different as well. But the key is just being ready when the season starts."

Are you using this week for free agent auditions. tryouts or anything like that?
"We would have tryouts. But it wouldn't be auditions, you know, it would be when you're not having team drills you're not necessarily bringing in (players). So it would be more on a one-on-one basis."

Alvin Kamara said that this non-traditional setup is more mentally challenging in the classroom is that a good thing since Drew Brees isn't here and he was the person who kind of spoke the same language as you to concentrate more on the classroom with guys like Alvin and everybody who's going to be maybe more of a leadership role on the offense?
"Yeah, I don't think there's any benefit, plus or minus relative to Drew being here not being here, we'd be very much on the same schedule if Drew were here. These guys are throwing, I think Jameis (Winston) and Taysom (Hill) are doing a great job with the skill players, the running backs, the tight ends, receivers, they're getting a lot of route work done. And each day that the focus shifts a little bit. But again, most importantly, the guys are training and when they pull up and park in the facility they're coming to work on their bodies, and they're coming to work on their position fundamentals. And I think that so far, that's going well."

Is there any benefit to having one quarterback win that battle earlier?
"Yeah, both of these guys have been here now. So I think the key is getting as much of the work and evaluation reps that you can for both of them. That'll be a challenge, but we'll find a way to do it."

What stood out to you most about Jameis Winston's approach, this offseason, maybe even different than last year when he was taking it as a learning experience and getting the feel of things? Anything in particular that has impressed you about his attitude or approach?
"Yeah, both those guys, when you talk about Jameis and Taysom. Both of them are extremely hard workers, both of them are doing a great job leading. And they're working together organizing the throwing sessions. I've talked before about the leadership in that room and I think they're doing a really good job."

Can you give us any insight into Dre Kirkpatrick visit and if you guys are planning on bringing in any more cornerbacks this week?
"Yeah, we would only just report when we do and I'd leave it at that. We've had a few players in for workouts, we'll list them. And we'll kind of go from there. But, I'm not going to project who else might be coming."

How would you kind of assess that the development of that young receiver core behind Michael Thomas?
"They're doing well. They're doing very well. And part of that was a number of those guys played more snaps last year because of injury and I'm encouraged. I like the way that room is coming together. There are a few guys that received more snaps a year ago because of some of our depth issues and I think that's helped them."

Did the young receivers' development play a part in sticking with what you had rather than maybe making a significant move in free agency?
"Yeah, look, I like the room. I like where we're at and I like to the guys that we have that are that are here on our roster."

What's the state of the pass rushing group and are the expectations raised for Marcus Davenport?
"I think it looks good. The addition of some of these younger players to the room have helped. Certainly, Marcus will be healthy as we get started. Payton (Turner) is doing well training. We feel like that position group we've added some depth. And certainly Trey (Hendrickson) played extremely well, for us and it won't be just one person, there'll be a series of players that pick up for some of that production. But we feel good about the direction we're moving out as a team relative to our defensive line."

How different will the offense have to be depending on who the quarterback might be or will they basically be doing much of the same things?
"Yeah, I think, to your point earlier, I think it could vary based on who the quarterback is. We've always tried to look closely at the strengths of our players, what they do well and we'll build a little bit around that player accordingly. And that's something that we did when Drew (Brees) first arrived here, and we would do with either these two players."

How does that affect the offseason battle then do you almost call different plays depending on the quarterback that's taking the reps?
"Look, there's certain things that you might do, specific to one or the other. And yet, there's still an overall philosophical approach that these guys will learn to play offense. But yeah, it's not a whole different game plan for each one of them. There are certain things that we would do maybe differently with each one, but we'll work that out."

Does the two weeks between the last preseason game and the opener help you as far as making a decision there and kind of going into regular season mode and implementing what you want to do?
"I don't know that it helps or hurts, it's just, it is what it is. It's the schedule change. It is unique this year, there's a few days required for the players to be off. And then the plus would be an additional week to recover from any injury that took place (centered around the final preseason game). But we'll approach the third preseason game, just like we have in the past, we'll play a lot of players so that that won't become the new last one. That'll still be the third one."

What is the adjustment for Zack Baun playing more Will linebacker instead of Sam this year?
"Well, look, they're different. Obviously, you're on the field a lot more if you're playing Will, with the amount of nickel the teams are playing, we're playing it. He's someone that has picked things up and you came away from the season feeling real positive about what you started to see with a few of those guys. He's one of them and so we feel like we've got added depth there. Certainly we draft the linebacker and Pete (Werner) and we have got a number of players that we feel like can help us and then also help us in the kicking game if they're not in a starting role."

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